FERGUSON, MO — The family of Michael Brown, the black teen killed last year by a white Ferguson police officer, has filed a wrongful death lawsuit against the city, attorneys for the family said.
The civil suit will be announced Thursday morning in front of the St. Louis County Courthouse.
Attorneys Anthony Gray and Daryl Parks promised the lawsuit in early March after grand jury and Justice Department decisions not to charge Officer Darren Wilson in the shooting.
“They have accepted (Wilson’s) self-defense,” Parks told reporters at the time. “We do not accept his self-defense.”
Word of the lawsuit comes more than six weeks after the Justice Department determined there was not sufficient evidence to charge Wilson in Brown’s death but found in a separate investigation that the Ferguson Police Department showed a pattern of racial bias.
The slain teen’s parents, Michael Brown Sr. and Lesley McSpadden, released a statement in March saying they were disappointed that Wilson would not face charges, but, they added, the federal report on the police department could provide a silver lining.
“We are encouraged that the DOJ will hold the Ferguson Police Department accountable for the pattern of racial bias and profiling they found in their handling of interactions with people of color,” the statement said. “It is our hope that through this action, true change will come not only in Ferguson, but around the country. If that change happens, our son’s death will not have been in vain.”
In November, a grand jury cleared Wilson and, in an uncharacteristic move in grand jury proceedings, the prosecutor released all the evidence that was considered.
Gray said the civil lawsuit will rely on “pretty much the same evidence,” but it will be cast differently. The jury in the civil lawsuit will be asked to make a determination based on a lower burden of proof — by a preponderance of evidence, rather than beyond a reasonable doubt, Parks said.
“There were other alternatives available to (Wilson),” he said in summing up the Brown family’s case. “He did not have to kill Michael Brown.”
By Ed Payne